CARMEL, Indiana – The Carmel Clay school board has not been very open with taxpayers about a recent scandal that led to the resignation of the district’s superintendent and human resources director.
And the Indianapolis Star did a poor job of informing the public about the very big compensation packages that both employees were drawing from the district.
Carmel Clay Superintendent Nicholas Wahl and Human Resources Director Corrine Middleton both resigned in January, after spending months on paid leave. The district never stated a reason for their resignations, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Unnamed sources told the newspaper that Wahl and Middleton were having a romantic relationship, and that apparently did not sit well with the school board.
The newspaper repeatedly tried to gain more details from the school district about the situation, with no luck.
Indiana’s Public Access Counselor Luke Britt told the Star that the district’s silence was unacceptable, particularly when it came to leaving them on paid leave for so long.
“For three months, that’s a long time for an employee to be paid for not working, and the public to not know why,” Britt said. “In my opinion, the school needs to explain itself.”
The Indy Star was also guilty, for leaving the public in the dark about the actual amount of money Wahl and Middleton were paid.
“Since Wahl’s leave was announced, the district added an amendment to his contract online, which states his salary this year is $209,000,” the Star reported. “The district also provides free gas and a ‘vehicle allowance’ of $700 per month.”
That was not even close to telling the whole story.
With salary and benefits included, Wahr’s compensation package came to $323,026 in fiscal 2016-17, according to information provided by the school district through a public information request.
That’s a full $113,326 more than the public was led to believe by the newspaper.
The Star also reported that Middleton “was paid $113,118 in 2016, IndyStar found Tuesday on Gateway, the state’s online reporting system for government units.”
If the Star had dug a little deeper, it would have learned that Middleton made a total of $153,913.27, with salary and benefits included. That’s a full $40,795 more than the public was led to believe.
The fact is that all Carmel Clay administrators were paid a great deal, in salary and benefits, in 2016-17.
A total of 118 district administrators made a total of $14,006,203.18 in salary and benefits in 2016-17. That averages out to $118,696.64 per employee.
Eighty-eight of those employees had compensation packages topping the $100,000 mark.
The seven highest compensated employees were Wahl ($323,026.37), Roger McMichael ($206,237.96), Amy Dudley ($196,582.04), John Williams ($196,266.40), Christi Cloud ($162,973.44), Ryan Newman ($162,973.44), and Rollin Ferrand ($161,703.40).
Some taxpayers may think those payroll costs are a bit extravagant. Others may think they’re fair. But they all have a right to know what their public school officials really make, instead of relying on incorrect information published by the local newspaper.